The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and longshoremen oppose the plan by the Oakland Athletics to build a ballpark on Port of Oakland property.
About 35 years ago, a speaker describing the competition for scarce waterfront space by maritime businesses and real estate developers keen to offer tenants a room with a view as a conflict between “cargo and quiche.”
In the Port of Oakland, however, peanuts and Cracker Jack are on the menu.
A California Assembly committee on Monday approved legislation needed to facilitate construction of a new baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics.
The A’s website featured a press release about approval of Assembly Bill 1191, the Oakland Waterfront Ballpark Act, by the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee by a 7-0 vote Monday evening alongside news of their 6-1 win Monday against the Texas Rangers.
“AB 1191 is intended to support the development of the Howard Terminal site in Oakland to include a baseball ballpark for the Oakland Athletics, as well as much-needed housing, including affordable housing, retail and mixed-use development that will provide access to the waterfront and an amazing public amenity for Oakland,” the website said.
Assembly member Rob Bonta, who authored the bill, said the ballpark and housing, proposed to be built on the site of the Howard Terminal and adjacent to a Schnitzer Steel scrap metal export facility, “will mean thousands of jobs, billions in economic impact for the region, and more vital affordable housing in our community. We have tremendous momentum now heading into our next committee vote on Wednesday.”
Dozens of A’s fans supporting a new home for their team and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union who oppose it because of concerns about the possible loss of jobs lined up to offer their opposing views of the legislation.
The bill would allow the State Lands Commission to enter into an exchange with the City of Oakland, which owns Howard Terminal, “of filled or reclaimed tidelands and submerged lands or beds of navigable waterways, or interests in these lands, located in the Howard Terminal property, that are subject to the public trust for commerce, navigation, and fisheries, for other lands or interests in lands under the jurisdiction and control of the city.”
The proposed law does not limit the authority of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission to consider “seaport plan and bay plan amendments and retain or remove seaport plan and bay plan port priority use designations from the Howard Terminal property.”
Mike Jacobs, vice president and general counsel of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said the shipping industry is concerned using the waterfront property could cause irreparable harm to the business of the region and overall economy of California, noting that deepwater property can’t be replicated.
A new stadium could be built, he said, near its current inland location in Oakland.
PMSA officials have expressed concern that users of the new stadium and housing will interfere with the heavy truck traffic moving containers and other cargo to and from the port. They also are concerned about the safety of pedestrians because of rail traffic in the area.
Bishop Bob Jackson, senior pastor of Oakland’s Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ said the housing to be built adjacent to the stadium would be luxury homes that would not benefit members of the existing community.
Other groups opposing the legislation include the American Waterways Operators, California Trucking Association, Harbor Trucking Association, Save the Bay, Schnitzer Steel Industries and the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of Northern California.
Opponents of the proposed ballpark location are planning a march from Howard Terminal to the headquarters of the Port of Oakland on May 1 as part of a protest.